Pickup struck by train near Wintler Park

Stolen F-250 went around stalled train, hit by another train

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

Updated: April 11, 2014, 7:25 PM

 
Wintler Park entrance

A pickup was hit by a train Friday afternoon after high-centering on the waterfront railway crossing near Wintler Park.

The crash shut down the railway for about three hours, delaying an estimated five trains, said BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas.

The crash was reported at 4:27 p.m. near the Southwest Beach Drive entrance to the park in Vancouver’s Riverview neighborhood. A westbound coal train heading to British Columbia had just cleared the tracks. BNSF believes that at the time, the railway crossing gate was down and emergency lights were flashing. A Ford F-250 drove around the crossing and drove on the tracks, where the vehicle high-centered.

The driver got out of the pickup — which had reportedly been stolen — before it was hit by an eastbound freight train heading to Chicago.

The man headed east along the tracks. He was described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, wearing a tank top, shorts, ball cap and Adidas flip-flops. Police attempted to find him, using a tracking dog.

The front locomotive for the eastbound train has to be repaired and was removed from the railway, Melonas said. The train’s other locomotives, however, had enough power to pull the freight cars, and the railway reopened around 7:30 p.m.

About 40 trains pass through the railway crossing near Wintler Park each day. Melonas said the crash serves as a reminder to abide by the warning devices at railway crossings.

BNSF and the Vancouver Police Department are investigating.